Even as candidates of the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress have started extensive poll campaigning, the issue of non-functional streetlights in the town to be a major poll plank that has potential to affect the prospects of the ruling alliance candidates.
As the sun sets, darkness shrouds most of the localities, resulting in inconvenience to the commuters and mishaps.
As per information, the council had awarded a contract for the maintenance of the streetlights to a private contractor and was spending `16 lakh per annum; however, the contractor “under pressure of ruling party leaders had sub-let the contract”, which was affecting the work.
SAD leader and Batala halqa in charge Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal too had raised the issue and blamed the municipal council authorities for the mess.
He said after receiving complaints from local residents, he had made rounds of the entire city and found more than 70% of the street lights out of order.
“Streetlights around my factory are non-functional for over the past two months. I tried to lodge several complaints with the municipal council, which the council employees refused to accept. They rather gave me a contact number of the contractor. The contractor, however, told me that as the council had not given him a written contract, he was helpless,” rued Ravi Aggarwal, a resident of Old Mall Mandi.
Another resident Inder Sanan said, “It becomes difficult for the residents to drive in the night as most of the streetlights are non-functional. With the civic polls due on February 25, Congress candidates will cash in on the issue.”
Rajinder Mahajan, a resident of Thathari Gate, told Hindustan Times: “Our repeated requests for correcting the streetlights had fallen on deaf ears of the area councillor, but the time is ripe now to teach a lesson to the ruling alliance, whose laxity had put the residents’ lives at risk.
Though district BJP president Suresh Bhatia admitted that the non-functional streetlights would be a major issue in the civic polls, he was confident that it would not affect their prospects.
He said the council was managed by the executive officer for the past two years and it were BJP workers who had held a protest against the non-functional streetlights.
Meanwhile, local Congress committee president Noval Malhotra alleged that the council authorities in connivance with private contractors were “looting” public funds.
“Even as the council is spending `16 lakh per annum for the maintenance of streetlights, the entire town is enveloped by darkness,” he said, adding that they would raise the issue in the civic polls.